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Issue number 28, November 2000

Boycott Summary

The International Nestlé Boycott is in effect in 19 countries. The boycott will continue until Nestlé ends its irresponsible marketing of breastmilk substitutes world-wide and abides by the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent Resolutions in policy and practice. The Boycott is supported in the UK by over 100 church, health and consumer groups, over 90 businesses, 80 student unions, 17 local authorities, 12 trade unions, 74 politicians and political parties and many celebrities.

£300,000 Nestlé deal collapses as Stockton Council embarks on ethical policy

Nestlé jumped at the chance of sponsoring a Stockton-on-Tees town centre marketing initiative, seeing it as a way to promote Nescafé coffee, the principal target of the boycott. Concerned councillors raised the baby milk issue and Baby Milk Action and Nestlé were invited to make separate presentations to an extraordinary Council meeting. Baby Milk Action agreed, only to hear shortly before the meeting (scheduled for 11th September) that Nestlé had backed out, fearing "controversy". The Council decided it would be wrong to accept the £300,000 sponsorship on offer without going through the formal democratic process and the deal collapsed. The Council is now developing funding guidelines.

The Local Government Act 1999 now stipulates "best value" when it comes to awarding contracts rather than "competitive tendering" and it is possible that ethical issues can be included in the criteria.


NCH (formerly National Children's Homes) decided not to work with Nestlé last year. NCH assesses each fundraising opportunity against its ethical fundraising framework. Four charities did accept Nestlé funds (totalling £1 million) and are now promoting Nescafé (see Boycott News 27).

The Ethical Consumer Research Association (ECRA) can provide information on the record of companies. Don't be caught out - give ECRA a call on 0161 226 2929


@Bristol hit by bad publicity after turning a blind eye

Executives in charge of the prestigious multi-million pound @Bristol water-side development decided to accept £350,000 sponsorship from Nestlé without looking too closely at the company's ethical record. Nestlé was also awarded exclusive rights to run a café and the vending machines in the development, which is to have a section to educate children about food.

@Bristol has indicated that the baby milk issue came up when discussing the Nestlé deal, but no investigation was made. Baby Milk Action can confirm that we were not contacted. We understand that the same is true of other experts such as Save the Children, Oxfam and UNICEF.

The official opening of the complex on 6th July was targeted by the Nestlé Boycott Rapid Response Network, prompting coverage in local and national media (see examples above). Now a campaigning coalition "Nestlé@Bristol.con" has been formed by local development organisations, trade unions and churches, calling on @Bristol to withdraw from the deal with Nestlé as soon as legally possible. This has the support of the local MP, Valerie Davey.

Baby Milk Action informed @Bristol that we will gladly attend a public meeting, with or without Nestlé, to present evidence showing that Nestlé is unethically marketing baby foods and contributing to the unnecessary death and suffering of infants. @Bristol has not yet responded to the offer.

Contact Baby Milk Action to join the Rapid Response Network and for information on the Bristol campaign, which is being coordinated by African Initiatives.

African IBFANers speak about the boycott

Baby Milk Action asked colleagues at the IBFAN Africa Regional Meeting if the boycott is important to their work.

"The Nestlé Boycott is very important. It should continue because Nestlé continues to violate the Code. We have to strengthen it further so these violations, especially in the Third World where these things are harmful, these violations, stop."

Pauline Kisanga, IBFAN Africa Regional Coordinator
(former National Breastfeeding Promotion Coordinator, Tanzania).

"We use this to tell people that what is happening here is not unique to Ghana. It shows that it is not only people in Ghana who are saying "No" but there are also people in the UK. The people there are campaigning because they think they have a voice and they can use their voice to help some people in the developing world who do not have a voice."

Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses, Chair of the IBFAN Africa Advisory Committee
Chair of the Ghanaian Infant Nutrition Action Network

Time to stage an exhibition of boycott art?

The Victoria and Albert Museum is holding an exhibition on "subvertising" called We thought we would ask our readers to submit designs to us, giving a new spin on Nestlé advertisements or raising the baby milk issue. Here are some ideas already on file. If you have other skills to offer to help us put together an exhibition, please let us know.

Kit-Kat is the UK's best selling chocolate bar. Smarties are targeted at school children. Send us your ideas for promoting a boycott of these products. puts a new spin on familiar marketing images - "No Escape" by Crash.


Footballer Ian Wright, star of the "No substitute" adverts was asked to reconsider his link with Nestlé, but did not respond. "No substitute - for a fat contract?" Come on, Ian. Give us a call!


Who could be responsible for a radical image like this? Answer: The Ministry of Health, Guatemala in its booklet "Protecting and defending breastfeeding."


Boycott Nescafé to protest about unethical baby milk marketing and bottle-baby deaths. A design from a Baby Milk Action mug, now a collectors' item.


It is getting easier to boycott

According to marketing experts Burson-Marsteller 40% of Nestlé's products now include the Nestlé logo. "Nestle soon recognized that if governments or activists wanted to attack one of the companies, they only had to look at the annual report to know its true identity. At this point, policy was changed, and every company in the group was given the Nestlé name." says a report from the Burson-Marsteller Knowledge Development Division.

The product lists we produce, particularly the handy credit-card size ones (available from the Virtual Shop), clearly have had an impact. We are now looking to update the list, which is not easy. Nestlé has around 8,500 brands (so many it admits it does not know the actual total) and there are often changes. Here we give a fuller list for the UK. Please let us know your top 20 candidates for the credit card size list and we will update it for the 21st century.

As reported in Update 22 (printed version) Grey & Dunn biscuits are no longer Nestlé - inevitably this still appears on old cards.

Tartex paté in tubes

As previously reported, this is still made at Nestlé's Dyna factory in Switzerland, despite the fact that Tartex has been bought out by the management. Other products have been moved to non-Nestlé factories, but Nestlé still profits from this range and we include it on the list.

Libby's juices

Nestlé owns the brand-name and the company now marketing the products pays Nestlé for using it.


In the United States only Nestlé has entered into a joint distribution venture with Haagen-Dazs' owners Pillsbury (part of the Diageo group, which also owns Guinness). Ice Cream Partners USA will sell both Nestlé and Haagen-Dazs brands. Haagen-Dazs has not been added to the boycott list - do you agree?

Unilever, not Nestlé, snapped up Ben&Jerry's - the ice-cream war rages on.

Findus - still Nestlé in some countries

Nestlé has sold Findus in the UK and Scandinavia to EQT Scandinavia B.V. Nestlé retains the infant food interests in Scandanavia, the whole company in Switzerland and Italy and some brands elsewhere. We have removed Findus from the UK lists.

Own brand

Marks & Spencer own brand products are not Nestlé. Safeway and the Co-op promise to tell you if you ask about specific products. Sainsburys won't say and Asda says it cannot for legal reasons so both are suspect. Many thanks for everyone who has been writing to the supermarkets - keep it up!

Nestlé-free festivals

Not a free festival organised by Nestlé, but festivals free of Nestlé products! That's our aim, so why not take some leaflets to your next festival? Ice-cream vans at the Glastonbury Festival this year were Nestlé-free zones after we spoke with the organisers - congratulations to Mr. Eavis and colleagues. Ice cream vendors even blanked out Nestlé logos on those vans that had them.

Baby Milk Action was present at WOMAD in Reading and made a small presentation on the One World Stage, supported by Sonia de Oliveira of IBFAN Brazil and local MP Martin Salter (many thanks to Area Contact Catherine Woodhouse for organising the stall) Mr. Salter spoke about his support for the campaign and then signed the Nestlé boycott petition (pictured).

Other recent new endorsers are:

      • Gloucestershire Wildlife Management Ltd.,
      • Natural Life (Cranleigh),
      • Expecting Changes (Glasgow),
      • Apex Bristol & District Staff Branch - part of the GMB trade union,
      • Reading International Solidarity Centre,
      • Chandni Chowk (Credition),
      • The Hungry Monkey Yoghurt Company (Saltash),
      • Sunset Café (Ashbourne).

Nestlé apologists caught out at church conferences

The Church of England governing body met in July and considered a report by the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) which was surprisingly complimentary to Nestlé. However, the EIAG had not consulted Baby Milk Action and so gave Nestlé credit for its book Nestlé implementation of the WHO Code. This contains letters Nestlé claims are "official verification" that Nestlé is doing nothing wrong. As we revealed in Update 27 (May 2000), this book has turned into a public relations disaster as governments have complained their letters have been misrepresented and the whole exercise has been criticised by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Children's Fund.

The EIAG even suggested Nestlé was embarking on partnerships on the baby milk issue with long-term critics Save the Children and Oxfam. Fortunately a lay member of the Synod thought to check with the organisations and reported to the assembly that it was not true. Baby Milk Action will gladly support any Synod members who are interested in bringing the facts before their colleagues.

The Methodist Church reiterated its support for the campaign at its annual Conference, striking down parts of a report calling for neutrality. The Church's call on members to boycott stands.

Boycott helps to protect infant health in Bulgaria

Nestlé seems to be learning that there is no point ignoring our letters reporting violations, because members of the public are also prompted to write by our Campaign for Ethical Marketing. We received responses to our letter about violations shown on the July/August action sheet (company responses, to us or supporters, appear in full in the Tip of the Iceberg reports). One case related to a Nestlé advertisement for Nan 1 infant formula which appeared in a parenting magazine in Bulgaria (see the evidence). The text states: "Yes, at present there are milks that are identical to mother's milk in biological respect and could be used as an alternative [table referring to Nan 1]."

We received a response from Nestlé stating: "Even though no Nestle infant formula brand is advertised, the featuring of the Nestle logo in the middle of the article could be questioned and for that reason we will indicate to Nestle Bulgaria that future science-based articles of this type should simply include a phrase which indicates that the magazine space was paid for by Nestle."

We informed Chief Executive, Mr. Peter Brabeck-Letmathé, that such responses bring Nestlé further into disrepute. This prompted another letter written on his behalf stating that Nestlé Bulgaria had been instructed not to place such "information pieces" again.